Finding Perseverance(11)

By: T. E. Black

Chapter Four


“Maybe,” she tells me before hanging up.

That “maybe” could mean so many things coming from the mouth of Ryleigh O’Donnell. It’s possible she just meant maybe she had plans, but she would be sure to check her calendar before getting back to me.

Then there’s the off chance she could have told me to fuck off without saying the actual words. Or, she could have meant she would indeed meet me for a drink, but she didn’t want to come out and say it.

The possibilities are endless. Though, if I had to guess what version of “maybe” I got from her, I would have to choose the one that meant “fuck off”. It wouldn’t be a surprise, considering how we left things ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was a different person. I wanted to be a different person. What I failed to realize then was that by being a different person I would lose my shot with the woman I’d end up comparing all other women to.

When I decided to call Leigh, I had one simple goal—get her to agree to see me while I was in Boston. I wasn’t and I’m still not looking to rekindle our old flame, but I haven’t seen her since Mom’s funeral. Even then, we weren’t on good terms. I pissed her off to no end.

I walked into her bar, where she stood with her back turned toward me. The moment I laid eyes on the woman she had become, my breath was taken away.

She stood taller than I remembered and looked incredible. Her once thin body, was still thin, but had developed the most mouth-watering curves I had ever seen. When I spoke, the bar glass she was holding slipped from her hand, shattering into piece upon piece as it hit the floor.

Then, she turned around and locked on to me with her intoxicating baby blues. Those eyes had always been my favorite feature about Leigh. They had a way of staring through me—always seeing the real me. They were never clouded with judgment or speculation.

Her eyes were honest … like her soul.

Her blonde hair was highlighted with pink, which was a bit of a surprise. Leigh had never attempted to stand out in the crowd with crazy-colored hair or overdone makeup. She didn’t need to. She was naturally beautiful.

I cracked a small joke about her not looking happy to see me, and her shocked expression finally broke, releasing a smile I had missed.

She told me I should have been with Trent because he needed me. Maybe he did need me, but I was sure she needed me more. After all, I did see her hiding out at the funeral when she should have been sitting in the front row next to me and my brother.

She was family then, and she is still family now.

My emotions got the better of me, though. Every word I spoke came off like I was pissed at her, and maybe I was. I was also concerned. I had no idea why she would hide like that when my mother was everything to her. She had known her as long as she had known me. She loved my mother more than her own, which admittedly wasn’t that hard to do. Her mom is a real piece of work.

I was surprised when she set me off by saying my name in a pleading way, almost reverently. It was new to me.

Maybe it was the fact that our mother had just passed away and she was emotional. Or, it could have been all the shit going on with my brother that she wouldn’t tell me about. Either way, Leigh wasn’t being herself.

As I laid into her about telling me the truth of why she was hiding out, the Leigh I knew came back, and she got that cute crinkle between her eyebrows.

I got under her skin with the things I said, because she told me to go fuck myself, slammed a bottle of Sam Adams in front of me, and walked away without another word.

The mess I made last time I saw her was the reason I was nervous about asking her to meet me while I was in Boston. Not only did I lie about having an interview to hurry up our conversation so I didn’t lose my nerve to ask, but also I wasn’t sure how she was going to react.

A knock at my door pulls me from my thoughts. It’s just then I remember I told Lauren to come over at seven for dinner.

Fuck. Seven o’clock already?

“Hey you,” Lauren coos when I open my front door.

“Hey, babe.” I snake my arms around her waist and pull her inside.

Shoving the front door closed, I lavish this woman with the affection she deserves. My lips trace the shell of her ear, and I whisper, “You look beautiful.”